The Northern Territory on Friday opened its borders up to interstate travel – but Victoria and greater Sydney residents are excluded.
Those from non-hotspot areas will be able to arrive without completing a period in isolation – though will be required to fill in an online border entry form 72 hours before travel.
The move follows an apparent ‘cluster’ of coronavirus cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel in NSW and much of Melbourne still in its second lockdown. Last week, Queensland and SA similarly pushed back on border openings.
From Friday, those who arrive into the NT from the NSW capital will now have to stay in mandatory supervised quarantine at the Howard Springs quarantine facility and will be charged $2,500.
Previously, the NT rule saw residents who returned from any other state having to self-isolate for 14 days. Effective immediately, those people, excluding those from Sydney or Victoria, will be able to leave.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner defended his decision to add greater Sydney to the banned list shortly before the state reopening.
“This situation in Sydney has the potential to get worse before it gets better, and we need to assume that it will get worse,” Chief Minister Gunner said. “To open our borders to Sydney right now, when we don’t know the full extent of this cluster, would be a roll of the dice.
“We will review the Sydney hotspot declarations in two weeks — one full replication cycle of the virus — to see if they need to be extended or amended. I don’t anticipate this declaration being in place for as long as Victoria’s, but I will not make any promises about a date.”
The move to toughen up the border follows similar moves by both Queensland and SA.
SA had planned to open up to NSW and the ACT on Monday but Premier Steven Marshall has shelved those plans as he waits to see how the Sydney situation develops.
“We don’t have the details of exactly how many people have become infected, obviously there’s a 14-day incubation period and the transition committee has made a decision that we really need to see those results before we lift the borders with NSW and the ACT,” Premier Marshall said.
Meanwhile, Queensland has also rowed back on its border opening, effectively banning residents from one of two hotspot Sydney suburbs.
Now, anyone who has travelled to suburbs within the Liverpool and Campbelltown local government area are banned from entering.
Queensland residents who have passed through the spots over the past two weeks will be allowed to come home, but must hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young didn’t rule out further restrictions, saying, “It depends where these clusters go. At the moment, they’re all being followed up by NSW Health, so it will depend whether they start seeing broader spread outside that area.”